Greek mythology was the way the ancient Greeks explained the world. Just as they took the form of gods made from nature such as the sunrise or echo they also personified many other things that were important to them and that they believed that by assigning them a divine being they could be more favorable to them. Join us to meet ALALA, the goddess of the war cry of ancient Greece .
The Greeks were not the only people who had a battle cry to invoke their protective goddess or simply to unite them and give them courage in the face of the enemy. Screaming before attacking is something most cultures have done. The battle cry is a universal human ritual that takes place in order to achieve a state of collective identity.
ALALA! The goddess of the War Cry
In Greek mythology, Alala is a minor allegorical goddess . Personify the cry in the battle of the hoplites and the word itself alala (Ἀλαλά) means "war cry" or "raise the war cry".
Alala was the daughter of Polemos the personification of war, and accompanied Ares, the war god of Greek Olympus. Along with her and Ares came to the battle other "macas" or spirits of battle such as Homados, the heat of battle, Alke, the courage of the warrior, Proioxis, the onslaught, Cidoimos, the confusion, or Palioxis, the retreat.
The Greeks attacked the enemy by shouting, trying to cause panic between enemy lines. According to Hesiod, the Athenians were the first to adopt this cry because it resembled the owl's hooting or the owl that was the bird that symbolized the patron saint of their city, the goddess Athena . But it's not the only explanation for that scream. Some authors believe that "alala" comes from the very name of Ares, the god of war, since one of the poetic epithets he received was Alaláxios ( Ἀλαλάξιος ) and others claim that with this cry the Greeks wanted to frighten the enemy by evoking a terrible memory, since it was an onomatopoeia similar to the croaking of the crows that flew over the battlefields to feed on the unburied corpses.
The battle cry is both a chant and a scream by a group of combatants. May or may not be articulated as Alala or Eia . Its function is to invoke religious or patriotic feelings while awakening aggression and team spirit while intimidating the other side. It is considered a "competitive advantage" since the battle cry is often accompanied by acoustic devices that amplify it such as drums, cornets, bagpipes or music of court martial. War cries are often the prelude to physical violence as they occur in a warm-up phase.
The Alala Greek was adopted many centuries later by the Crusaders during the Middle Ages as a war cry and dur before the First World War was rescued and transformed into "Eia, Eia, Alala!" by Gabriele D'Annunzio to form a new cry to encourage the Italian aviators who participated in the air attack on Pula in August 1917. It was also used later by Italian fascism, so that today, especially in Italy, it is difficult to escape that relationship.
Below you can see some of the war cries popular throughout history. Surely you will recognize some of them, since they have been reproduced in movies or television series.
- The battle cry with which Alexander the Great encouraged his horse Bucephalus was, according to tradition, "Eia" .
- The Roman legionnaires changed their cry depending on the enemy. Before the Carthaginians they shouted: "Delenda est Carthago " which means " Carthage will be destroyed."
- The officers of the Byzantine army shouted "Nobiscum Deus" which means "God with us" and the hosts answered "Kyrie Eleison", which means "Lord have mercy".
- The cry of the French Crusaders was "Dieu le veut" which means "God wants it", to which the Muslim armies responded...
- "Allahu Akbar" , “ God is great.
- The Catalan almogávares launched a "Wake up ferro!"
- “ Santiago y Cierra EspaÃ±a! or "Close Spain" has been used by the Spanish armies since the Battle of Clavijo during the Reconquest.
- The most current cries are for example: the Bandai! of the Japanese kamikazes, the Hooyah! of the Navy Seals or the "Geronimo" of the paratroopers of the U.S. army.
Did you know that Alala was both the goddess of the battle cry and the hoplites' own cry as they go into combat? Remember other war cries? Share it with us! If you want to meet Ares, the Greek god of war, we invite you to read the post: 4 Myths of Curious Ares | Stories of the Greek god of war .